Everything You Need to Know About the Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata) | PLANTZ

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Everything You Need to Know About the Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)

Don’t be fooled by the word “ficus”!  This is not your grandmother’s dusty sunroom ficus that may or may not be real.  Once you set your eyes on a well-pruned fiddle leaf fig, it is easy to see why they are the number-one indoor plant.  With its slender stem and broad, violin (or fiddle/lyre)-shaped leaves, the fiddle leaf fig has been a favorite for indoor plant lovers for over a decade.  From the crisp green leaves to the pencil-thin trunk, this house plant is an attention getter that is welcomed as a focal point for even the most luxurious locales.  Let’s dive in to the basics!

Getting to Know the Ficus lyrata

Taxonomic Hierarchy:

  • Kingdom:  Plantae
  • Phylum: Spermatophyta
  • Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Order: Rosales
  • Family: Moraceae
  • Genus: Ficus
  • Species: Ficus lyrata or lyrata

 

  • Growing Conditions: As natives of western and central Africa, the fiddle leaf fig thrives in warm, moist conditions with access to moderate amounts of sunlight.  Humidity plays a key factor in maintaining a happy and healthy plant.  Providing enough space for this plant to grow will help it reach its full potential, approximately 10 feet tall in its container.
  • Temperature Range: Maintaining a consistent 60°F – 80°F range with high humidity will ensure your plant thrives. For our friends across the pond, 15°C to 27°C is ideal.
  • Sunlight: This plant loves sunlight!  But not too much.  Approximately 5 to 8 hours of moderate sunlight from an east, south, or west-facing window will keep your plant happy.  Too much direct light will cause the leaves to burn, while too little light will cause leaves to yellow, ultimately leading to the leaves dropping from the plant.
  • Water: Fiddle leaf figs are healthy drinkers.  However, the precise amount of water necessary can be difficult to determine as a new lyrata owner.  Once you’ve welcomed your plant to its forever home, check the soil.  If it is dry, water it.  Then check it weekly for about the first two months to get a feel for your plant’s habits.  Once settled, these plants can go two or more weeks without watering with the use of a proper sub-irrigation system.  For the best results, order your new fiddle leaf fig from Plantz with their PlantAssure Kit.  These systems eliminate the guess work from the watering cycle by creating a reservoir of water for the plant to access without any fear of damaging your new fiddle leaf fig by overwatering it. Please refer to our Watering Guide for detailed information on proper watering techniques.
  • Winter Care: Winter brings new challenges for the fiddle leaf fig, even as an indoor plant.  As the seasons change, so does the amount of available sunlight.  As many people turn on the heat to get warm, the heat can dry out the air and reduce the humidity your plant needs to thrive. Keeping your plant away from vents or drafts will help its winter survival. One side effect of this seasonal change will be less growth by your beloved plant.  At this point a reduced water schedule is also recommended.  Transitioning your plant from outdoors to indoors may require further attention including potentially using grow lights to maintain your plant’s health.
  • Nutrition: Plants need food, and this one is no exception.  However, much like people, it is important to moderate how much food is provided.  Too much or too little food are both bad.  Purchasing a fiddle leaf fig from a well-respected source, like com, will ensure your plant is happily fed at the time of purchase and should not require nourishment for approximately six months.  After those six months, a complete fertilizer created for indoor plants is required.  Ideally, this would be a high-quality fertilizer like Dyna-Gro Plant Nutrition.  After 12 months have elapsed since purchase (or six months after your first feeding), a quarterly feeding is enough to maintain the glory of your fiddle leaf fig .  As new leaves grow, make sure they are not coming in yellow.  If this is the case, your plant may need supplemental nutrition.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Frequently Asked Questions

Are fiddle leaf figs good indoor plants?

These plants require bright light.  As long as there is a south (preferable), east or west facing window in front of which your plant may call home, the F. lyrata should thrive in an indoor setting.  Of course, temperature, water, and nutrition are vital factors to maintaining a lush plant, without access to adequate sunlight, the plant will not thrive.  Simply, the fiddle leaf fig is a stunning indoor plant as long as it is provided the proper care and sunlight.

Are fiddle leaf figs hard to take care of?

Fiddle leaf figs are not for the faint of heart.  These are not the ideal plants for plant parents prone to forgetfulness. They require specific care.  However, much like adapting to a newborn baby, part of the process is learning and growing with your new plant.  The plant will show you if there is a problem, and you will need to adapt to your plants needs.  In return, this plant will grow to be a lush showstopper in any adequate space.

How much light does a fiddle leaf fig need?

As noted above, for optimal care, this plant should have moderately bright light for approximately 5 to 8 hours.  South facing windows are ideal, but east and west facing windows tend to also provide adequate sunlight.  While it does thrive in bright sunlight, keep an eye on the leaves.  They will alert you to any issues the plant may be having, including too much or too little light.

Why are fiddle leaf figs hard to keep alive?

Fiddle leaf figs require more attention than plants like the Sanseveria, or snake plant.  These plants require consistent love and attention in the form of food, water, space and sunlight.  Maintaining that consistency is vital to your plant’s health.  For some plant parents life gets in the way, and plants may be forgotten.  This particular plant requires consistency to thrive.  Without it, plant owners will find this plant difficult to maintain.

Do you find yourself to be more of a visual learner?  This video is packed with the information needed to get you started with your fiddle leaf fig.

Interior Design

What design style does a fiddle leaf fig look good in?

Fiddle leaf figs work well in sleek, modern spaces with a lot of head room.  The splash of color against white or light neutral-colored walls provides a stark contrast and allows those lush, vibrant green leaves to really stand out to become the focal point of the room.  These plants are great space fillers due to their leaf size and height.  Farmhouse designs also benefit from the use of fiddle leaf figs as it brings a bit of the outside environment to the indoors, providing the homeowners the added bonus of biophilic design in the home.  Further, including F. lyrata in your biophilic home design brings the added benefit of air purification and that sense of peace that only living plants can bring to the home.  Once these plants fully mature to their potential, proper placement will allow you to shrink the size of any overly elevated ceiling, bringing a sense of warmth to the room.

Are fiddle leaf figs good for a home or office?

The simple answer to this is a resounding YES!  As long as there is adequate sunlight, the fiddle leaf fig is the perfect addition to any home or office.  Both homes and offices benefit not only from the aesthetic beauty of these unique plants, but also, through the inclusion of biophilic design the people serving these locations, whether they are residents, employees, or simply visitors to location, through the many health benefits created by the incorporation of plants into our many spaces.  From increased feelings of well being to air purification, incorporating plants into our spaces makes us healthier. The fiddle leaf fig is no exception, as long as it is placed in a space that provides proper sunlight.  Once these plants reach maturity, much like in home design, they are excellent ways to fill blank, dreary office walls or create separation between spaces.  The days of the laminate, chipboard cubicles are over.  Plants are the new cubicle divider!

Is a fiddle leaf fig a tree or a bush?

Plant lovers will be happy to note that the fiddle leaf fig can be a tree or a bush!  It is all a matter of pruning.  The differences between the bush form and the tree form lie in the height, trunk and branches of the plant.  The plant will tend towards the bush form; however, with careful attention and precise pruning, training your bush to become a tree is worthwhile work.  First, be patient.  Your plant will need time to grow before you can train it to be a tree.  When the bush has grown to the desired height, that is when the branching begins.  This may be achieved through pruning or notching.  Pruning the tip sends a signal to the plant that its upward growth has been impeded and creates new branched out shoots as a means of survival.  Finally, the last piece of the puzzle is the trunk.  Many plant owners want to maximize the visibility of the slender trunk characteristic of fiddle leaf figs.  However, be careful not to prune too much from the bottom as they will not grow back.  Have an idea of the length of bare bark you are looking for before you bring out the shears.  There’s no going back once they are trimmed.  Some plants will surprise you with multiple trunks!  Many times this is due to multiple plants in the same container.  You then have the option of separating these into multiple plants in different containers.

What style of pot would you put your fiddle leaf fig in and how will it change the look of the room?

In order to determine what pot to use and how it will affect the flow of your interior design, there are some basics to be addressed.  First, the pot should have access to drainage, so any excessive water has a place to go instead of remaining in the soil.  Second, the pot should not be too big.  When repotting, aim for an increase of 6 inches in diameter.  Applying both proper drainage with a proper pot size will reduce the likelihood of root rot in your plant. One way to ensure you are using the right pot is to utilize nursery pots as they have the perfect drainage holes, then put the nursery pot inside a decorative pot that is coordinated with your chosen décor.  For those recreating the rustic farmhouse interior, decorative pots in neutral colors or made of natural materials, like jute or wood, will blend seamlessly with the interior design.

How to Take Proper Care of the Fiddle Leaf Fig

  • Repotting: Repotting is necessary for your fiddle leaf fig in order to allow it the right amount of space to grow and thrive.  As the plant grows, the roots continue to grow and expand in the container, eventually running out of room.  To keep the roots healthy and capable of absorbing nutrients, they need their space.  Younger plants may need to be repotted once a year depending on their growth spurts.  When repotting, the general rule of thumb is to use a pot that is 6 inches wider in diameter than the current pot.  This allows the plant enough room to grow without increasing its susceptibility to root rot.  Because of their tropical nature, it is best to repot these plants during the spring or early summer, depending on the temperature of your area and coinciding with your locale’s growing season.  This allows the plant to acclimate to its new home during its peak growing season, minimizing the effects of shock from the repotting process.  Soil that has a mildly acidic pH and drains well is vital to repotting.  Watering the freshly repotted plant also aids the plant in recovering from the shock that occurs, plus it helps the roots settle in their new container.

 

  • Lighting Guide: Sunlight is the most crucial component in the care of your fiddle leaf fig.  Without the right amount of light, no amount of fertilizing, watering or repotting is going to help your plant reach its full vibrant potential.  For indoor plants, placing them in south facing windows, mimicking the pattern of the sun through the sky, provides the right amount of sun necessary for these plants to thrive.  East and west facing windows are also great locations, with some extra attention being required for west-facing windows, as the heat from that afternoon sun could potentially burn the leaves, especially in the southern portion of the United States.  In the winter, as the amount of daily sunlight is limited, especially in the very northern latitudes, it may be necessary to supplement natural sunlight.   Fortunately, scientists have developed grow lights that will help keep tropical and semitropical indoor plants thriving, even in tundra regions.

 

  • Other Helpful Tips and Suggestions: com has a wealth of knowledge on the F. lyrata.  From tips on cleaning those big green leaves (especially important in the winter when any dirt and debris may interfere with the plant’s ability to absorb sunlight) with water or a solution of mild soap and water to the best ways to prune your plant and the effects pruning will have on your plant (to maintain the plant’s height and girth, the cuts should be made just above the area where the leaf attaches to the stem) to warnings to pet owners about any portion of the plant that may be harmful to our multi-legged friends (for the fiddle leaf fig, the sap is poisonous to dogs, cats, and horses, and is even a known irritant to humans), Plantz.com is a great guide for beginner and well versed fiddle leaf fig owners.  They will even ship your new fiddle leaf fig directly to you!

Little Known Facts about the F. Lyrata

Does it flower or bear fruit?

At the end of the day, F. lyrata is still a fig tree, and in its natural habitat, it regularly flowers and bears fruit.  However, once removed from its ideal conditions in the wild, the indoor versions of these plants rarely, if ever, flower and bear fruit.  For outdoor plants, not confined to container living, on the rare occasion, these plants will flower and bear fruit.  Unfortunately, the figs produced by this particular species are not the ones your family uses to make a warm figgy pudding.  While these fruits may not be toxic if eaten, they are not known to delight the tastebuds.

Is this an indoor plant or an outdoor plant?

Well, it’s true to say that all plants are “outdoor” plants because that’s where they all come from, with some consistent care and attention, these plants make beautiful additions to any room with the right amount of sunlight.  They can be integrated into almost any well light space, pruned to the perfect size or given free range to grow to its full splendor.  They also excel as outdoor plants.  The best way for them to succeed outdoors is to find a way to mimic its natural humid habitat, with full mid-day sun and some protection from the intense afternoon rays.  Aside from the fiddle leaf fig being the perfect focal point in a well-appointed room, the other real advantage of the indoor version of this plant is that you can adapt its surroundings to optimal growth conditions during any season of the year, in ant location around the world.

Is What Is the Spiritual Meaning of a Fiddle Leaf Fig?

The fiddle leaf fig has long been symbol of fertility, abundance, and good luck. This plant is also popular for use by people who adhere to feng shui spatial arranging principles. For many who practice feng shui, it is more than simply an aspect of interior design, it is a way of life that directs the flow of energy through a given space.  It is believed that with the proper feng shui placement of a fiddle leaf fig, the plant’s broad, green leaves will cleanse the air by neutralizing negative energy and allowing more positive energy to flow through the room thereby increasing the chances for good luck and prosperity.

What are the benefits of the fiddle leaf fig?

It has been well documented that the incorporation of plants into our indoor spaces has a marked improvement on both our physical and mental well-being.  Employers are now using the incorporation of plants into the workspace as a way to bring people back into the office and away from telecommuting.  They are trying to mimic the peace and tranquility of the home through the use of greenery.  From air purification to reduced blood pressure levels, it is clear that plants are good for people.  The fiddle leaf fig is no exception.  When the general aesthetic pleasure of the fiddle leaf fig is combined with general plant traits that are attributed to a healthier human well-being, it is easily understood why this plant has been the number one most popular house plant for the last several years.

Where Can I Buy a Fiddle Leaf Fig?

Due to their immense popularity, the fiddle leaf fig is a mainstay in many corporate, big box stores; however, from one plant lover to another, if you want a well-treated, fresh, and healthy plant to grace your home, locating a vendor that treats these little beauties with love and respect is important.  While local nurseries will usually fit the bill, businesses like Plantz.com will exceed your expectations, offering plants of varying sizes in a wide array of containers to fit your décor needs.  Plantz.com is not just your every day run of the mill online plant vendor.  Starting as a small plant business in the 1970s, Plantz.com has grown into the business that people know they can rely on for the delivery of high-quality indoor plants from almost every region of the world.  They love your fiddle leaf fig almost as much as you do!